Liebelei (1933)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

Germany, 1933.  Directed by .  Screenplay by , Max Ophuls, , adaptation by , based on the play by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by  .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Early Max Ophuls film based on the Arthur Schnitzler play, whose simple plot is opened up by beautiful direction and the filmmaker’s technical prowess.  A lieutenant decides to end an affair with a married woman, then is initiated into the world of real love when he and his buddy pick up two delightful girls and begin courting them.   Our hero and his lady () fall genuinely in love, but his past comes to haunt him when his ex-lover’s husband finds out about their affair and challenges him to a duel.  The plot doesn’t need much more for Ophuls to get ninety minutes of beautiful music and genuine sentiment out of it, and despite the fact that the film has not been treated well by time (most prints are jumpy and the soundtrack hisses), it’s quite impressive to see how well it moves for a film from the early, awkward days of sound, and how much room Ophuls gives his actors to emote and not just read their lines to suit the plot.  Watch Schneider’s focused close-up moments at the end and you seem some very world class acting from before a time that movies could accommodate it all that well.

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